We have all seen the romantic comedies where the main character has some kind of devastating breakup and turns to emotional eating of junk food or ice cream for comfort. I think at some point or another, we have all had a moment where we eat simply for emotional comfort. It's important to recognize, however, that emotional eating is tied to emotions on both positive and negative sides of the spectrum. We eat when we're sad, but we also eat when we are celebrating! Learning to break the connection between our emotions and eating can be difficult, but it's absolutely possible to conquer emotional eating.
What is Emotional Eating?
First, you may be asking what is emotional eating. If you are searching for an emotional eating definition, I believe that the Mayo Clinic defined it best as “a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness. Major life events or, more commonly, the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to eating and disrupt your weight-loss efforts. Emotional eating can sabotage your weight-loss efforts. It often leads to eating too much — especially too much of high-calorie, sweet and fatty foods. The good news is that if you're prone to emotional eating, you can take steps to regain control of your eating habits and get back on track with your weight-loss goals.”
If you are looking for a simpler explanation for emotional eating, then think about the scenario I wrote about above. After some sort of emotional trigger, you turn to food as a way to soothe the emotional wound. If you turn your way of thinking around to eat mindfully instead of emotionally, it can totally change your life.
Emotional Eating Isn't Limited To Negative Emotions
For me, I tend to favor salty and crunchy snacks when I'm feeling sad or bored. However, using food as emotional support isn't limited to combating negative emotions. In fact, often food can be used as a reward for things we accomplish in our day to day lives. Personally, I remember as a child being offered ice cream as a reward for behaving at a doctor's visit, or after a performance at school. I learned from an early age that spending time with family, feeling loved and safe, it all centered around a dinner table. If you can relate to this, then it's time to start asking some questions.
Questions to Ask Yourself To Discover If You Are An Emotional Eater
I tend to favor self-help quizzes when I am searching for information about myself. It's a great time to be reflective of myself and practice some self-care while I learn about changing my mindset with eating. I challenge you to answer these questions and see if emotional eating is a struggle for you as well.
- When you are feeling stressed, do you tend to eat more?
- Even when you're full or not necessarily hungry, are you still eating?
- How often do you eat because you are bored, tired, anxious… etc?
- Have you used food as a way to treat yourself after an accomplishment?
- Do you eat often like it's Thanksgiving? (I call that Turkey Stuffing full.)
- Have you ever thought of food as being something that makes you feel safe or like something you can turn to during a crisis?
- Do you feel out of control or powerless when it comes to certain kinds of food?
I have personally struggled with emotional eating my entire life. My earliest memories are sneaking into my pantry closet in kindergarten and devouring a box of cheese-its because the kids at school were teasing me about my weight. Trust me, this is a topic that is deeply personal for me. That's one of the reasons I am writing this blog, is also to be accountable for my own eating habits as well as helping my wonderful readers to be accountable for theirs.
The Key To Conquering Emotional Eating Is Support!
Just like with weight watchers, this key to accomplishing any goal is to have the proper level of support. Take the time to really invest in yourself and in your health.. It is the first step in taking back control of your life! Are you ready to start your journey to conquer emotional eating?
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What are the Best Tools to Conquer Emotional Eating?
Are you looking to Conquer Emotional Eating For Good? Start with my FREE printable workbook! With pages to help you learn your triggers and work through them, with tips and advice to move past emotional eating, the workbook is the perfect place to get started!